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Subject: [theburmanetnews] BurmaNet News: May 25, 2000

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________

May 25, 2000

Issue # 1537


"No democratically elected government could hope to return to power 
if it sits idly while its sons and daughters waste away on drugs." 

Thai Deputy Foreign Minister Sukhumbhand Paribatra explaining why 
Thailand has begun supporting clandestine sabotage operations inside 

*Inside Burma











IHC Caland)





__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________


May 22, 2000

Emergency Statement No. 2 of the All Burma Young Monks' Union (ABYMU) 
regarding the current political situation inside Burma

1. ABYMU strongly condemns the SPDC military regime over the 
announcement (dated
19th May 2000) indicating there will be a violent crackdown against 
the monks. 
2. The SPDC will bear sole responsibility for any consequences that 
might occur as a result of a violent crackdown, therefore monks have 
sent a second warning to the regime, as it will be impossible for 
them to restrain the anger of the people inside and outside the 

3. The SPDC's threat will not affect the monks' demands for peaceful 
dialogue. The leading monks confirm the campaign will proceed as 

(a) There will be protests at the monastery strike center

(b) A protest march will be organized along three routes towards 

4. The monks, students and people have held discussions and reached 
agreement, during 99 days, to cooperate with each while forming 
various groups.

The Young Monks' Union has received evidence that counter-violence 
against property owned by or related to the SPDC will occur at any 
place where violence is committed by the regime.

5. Therefore investors and tourists are urged to leave the country 
and foreign     governments are requested to evacuate their own 
citizens immediately.

6. We express our deep sadness to learn that the United Nations is 
unable to intervene in response to the demands made by the monks. It 
is a sign of admittance of the UN's failure to guarantee the safety 
of the world populace. 

7. We appeal to the monks and people of the country to be united at 
this time of national emergency.

Central Leading Committee
All Burma Young Monks' Union
Date: May 22, 2000



May 25, 2000, Thursday 

Burma's clergy, like others in Asia, may be liberating

This Saturday marks the 10th anniversary of the day democracy was 
snatched from the people of Burma. A military junta denied the 
results of an election that was decisively won by the pro-democracy 
leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. 
Ever since then, her political party has been suppressed while Burma 
(renamed Myanmar) has languished as a Southeast Asian backwater. A 
decade of international ostracism has done little to put Burma right. 
Hundreds of political dissidents remain jailed, including 13 
journalists - the highest in any nation. 
Is there any hope that this poor pariah state might soon become the 
latest Asian democracy?    
The answer may not lie in more economic sanctions, stiff-arm 
diplomacy, or Nobel Peace Prizes (Suu Kyi won it in 1991). 
Rather, it may lie with monks. 
Like other Asian nations with large numbers of Buddhists, Burma's 
robed clergy can play a powerful role behind the scenes. They are 
stewards of not only a common faith but the nation's identity.    

That's why the junta, oddly named the State Peace and Development 
Council, has tried hard to co-opt or control the monkhood. Its 
donations to temples are recounted almost daily in the state-
controlled press as displays of official piety. 
In ancient days, Burma's top monks could topple kings just by 
withdrawing their approval. A king's power rested on his legitimacy 
among Buddhist believers, but their reverence went to monks for their 
devotion to compassion and pacifism. 
That reverence is revived daily during the monks' daily walks among 
the people - barefooted with shaved heads, wearing saffron-colored 
robes - as they carry empty bowls seeking alms, such as food. They 
are moral leaders at the rice-roots level. 
Monks rely on the people's generosity to survive. As the Burmese 
suffer more shortages in their nation's isolation, that has compelled 
the monks to act. 
In February, a leading monk asked the junta for an end to the 
political stalemate. The Monks Union, representing 300,000 clergy, 
threatens a protest at temples in coming days, pegged to the 
anniversary, if that demand is not met. 
Can the monks spark a revolt now? Unlikely. They have been 
infiltrated by agents. But their movement is the only positive 
dynamic in what otherwise appears to be a hopeless situation.    
Burma, of course, is not the only Asian nation where Buddhist monks 
often serve as political activists.  
The Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled god-king, has waged a global campaign 
during his 41 years of exile to undo Chinese control of Tibetan 
Buddhists. He and Beijing have struggled over which young Buddhist 
leaders will lead the Tibetan faithful. 
And China's Communist leaders were recently shocked by the sudden 
rise in popularity of the Buddhist-oriented Falun Gong among Han 
Chinese. The movement has attracted millions of followers and has 
peacefully protested a government crackdown on the group.    
In Communist-led Vietnam, Buddhist monks remain under tight watch, 
many of them having been arrested, for fear they could become a rival 
center of power and someday lead a revolt against the country's sole 
political party. The state "sponsors" the Buddhist clergy in each 
temple. (The self-immolation of a Buddhist monk during the Vietnam 
War shows just how activist monks there can be.) 
In Sri Lanka, a long, brutal civil war recently compelled many 
Buddhist clergy to shed a pacifist stance in support of a government 
war against guerrilla fighters seeking a homeland for the minority 
Hindu Tamils. The monks' cause is tied up with the nationalism of the 
island's majority Sinhalese, who are taught that Sri Lanka plays a 
special role in the Buddhist faith. Other, apolitical monks stick to 
a pacifist role that is more like the teachings of Buddha, who lived 
in the 6th century BC.  
(And in case anyone thinks monk activism is strictly in Asia, it's 
worth recalling that Vice President Al Gore attended a 1996 fund-
raiser at a Buddhist temple in Los Angeles where $ 55,000 in illegal 
contributions was collected for Democrats.) 
Buddhism's appeal for many comes from the tranquility it brings, 
based on Buddha's teaching that human suffering can be lessened by 
reducing human desires. But many of its adherents live in troubled 
lands. As spiritual seekers, they can empower monks to act on their 

Over Asia's long history, monks have often proved critical in 
bringing about political change. In Burma's case, that may prove true 


May 2000
  Women in Myanmar have been subjected to a wide range of human 
rights violations,   including political imprisonment, torture and  
rape, forced labour, and forcible   relocation, all at the hands of 
the military authorities.  At the same time women  have   played an 
active role in the political and economic life of the country.  It is 
the women   who manage the family finances and work alongside their 
male relatives on family farms   and in small businesses.  Women have 
been at the forefront of the pro-democracy   movement which began in 
1988, many of whom were also students or female leaders   within 
opposition political parties. 
       The situation of women in Myanmar was raised most recently in 
April 2000 at   the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and in 
January 2000 by the   Committee  on the Elimination of Discrimination 
against Women (CEDAW), the expert   body which monitors States 
parties' compliance with the Convention on the Elimination   of All 
Forms of Discrimination against Women.  CEDAW considered the initial 
report   by the Government of Myanmar on measures taken to implement 
the provisions of the   Convention at its Twenty-second session in 
New York. Prior to its consideration,   Amnesty International made a 
submission to the Committee, which outlined the   organization's 
concerns in regards to the State Peace and Development Council's   
(SPDC, Myanmar's military government) compliance with the provisions 
of  the   Convention... 
       In the years before the 1988 mass uprising, women belonging to 
various ethnic   minorities, who live mostly in the areas surrounding 
the central Burman plain, were   subjected to arbitrary detention and 
torture by the military. According to the SPDC   Myanmar is made up 
of "135 national races" which includes approximately two-thirds   
majority ethnic Burman and one-third ethnic minorities.  Many ethnic 
minority groups   have engaged in armed struggle for autonomy or 
independence from the central Burman   authorities for over fifty 
years.  As a result, the  tatmadaw, or Myanmar armed forces,   have 
launched intensive counter-insurgency campaigns against these armed 
groups, but   it is the civilians, mostly women and children, who 
suffer the majority of casualties. ..

       Ethnic minority women and women belonging to the majority 
Burman group all    share the common struggle to feed their families 
and educate their children in a country   with high inflation rates 
and low wages.  The price of rice and other staples has increased   
dramatically in the last two years. The government fixed the official 
exchange rate of    Myanmar's currency, the kyat, at six per one US 
dollar, but the unofficial rate is over   300.  In addition because 
of poor nutrition and health care facilities, women in Myanmar   
suffer from a high rate of maternal mortality and their children 
suffer from an extremely   high rate of moderate malnutrition and 
preventable diseases.    

       Wives and mothers of the hundreds of male political prisoners 
in Myanmar must   often support their families in the absence of 
their husbands and sons.  They have an   additional burden of 
providing their imprisoned male relatives with supplementary food   
and medicine, as diet and medical care in Myanmar's prisons are 
extremely inadequate.    Women with  imprisoned family members and 
those whose male relatives have fled to   other countries have also 
been extensively interrogated and watched by Military   Intelligence 
       The SPDC does not permit any independent local non-
governmental   organizations (NGOs) to operate in Myanmar today, 
although there are several   international aid NGOs as well as United 
Nations programs such as the UN   Development Program (UNDP) and the 
UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).  As such there   are no Myanmar women's 
organizations besides those formed by the SPDC, which are   sometimes 
referred to as Government Organized NGOs or GONGOs.  Among the   
GONGOs are the Myanmar Maternal and Child Welfare Association 
(MMCWA), led by   Dr. Khin Win Shwe, wife of Lieutenant General Khin 
Nyunt, SPDC First Secretary.  The   Myanmar Women Entrepreneurs' 
Association (MWEA) was also established under the   sponsorship of 
the SPDC in February 1995 and the Myanmar Women Sports Federation   
(MWSF) was founded in 1991.
  Amnesty International has details of the imprisonment of at least 
61 women for political   reasons.  After the security forces' harsh 
repression of the pro-democracy movement in   1988, the newly-formed 
military government made some concessions, including   granting 
permission to form independent  political parties and the promise of 
elections in   May 1990.  Several women rose to leadership positions, 
including Daw Aung San Suu   Kyi, General Secretary of the National 
League for Democracy (NLD, which won the   1990 general elections but 
has never been allowed to convene parliament).  Beginning in   1989 
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other women activists were arrested for 
their peaceful   political activities.  Elections were held in May 
1990, and 15 women belonging to the   NLD were elected out of a 
total  485 members of parliament...

  Conditions of detention and imprisonment     
  For the past 11 years Amnesty International has been reporting 
instances of  torture and   ill-treatment in Myanmar's prisons and 
detention centres.  In addition conditions in   custody fall far 
short of international standards applying to anyone who has been   
deprived of their liberty. Conditions amounting to cruel, inhuman or 
degrading   treatment of prisoners include lack of proper sanitation, 
medical care, and diet.   Political   prisoners are most at risk of 
torture during the initial phases of detention, when they are   
generally held in one of the Military Intelligence (MI) headquarters 
and interrogated for   prolonged periods.  However, after they have 
been sentenced, prisoners are often   tortured for breaking arbitrary 
prison regulations...
  Amnesty International makes the following recommendations to the 
State Peace and   Development Council (SPDC), in order to improve the 
human rights situation of all   women in Myanmar:
  1.  Release all women prisoners of conscience immediately and 

  2.  Ensure that any female deprived of her liberty is not subjected 
to torture or cruel,   inhuman or degrading treatment,  including all 
forms of sexual abuse.   

  3.  Review and revise all detention procedures to ensure that 
measures are taken to   prevent torture and cruel, inhuman or 
degrading treatment, and that women in custody   receive medical 
exams and proper care by qualified doctors.   

  4.  Ensure that there is judicial supervision of all forms of 

  5.  Abolish the practice of unpaid forced labour and portering, and 
abide by ILO   Convention  No 29 on the grounds that it constitutes 
cruel, inhuman or degrading   treatment.
  6.  Abolish forcible relocations on ethnic grounds and abide by 
Article 17 of Protocol II   Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 
12 August 1949, which stipulates that civilians   should be relocated 
only for their own security or for imperative military reasons.    

  7.  Ensure that the right to life is protected and that the 
circumstances of all deaths in   custody are investigated.
  8.  Ensure that those found responsible for human rights violations 
against women be   brought to justice.
  9.   Provide human rights and gender-sensitive training for all 
military personnel, police,   and prison staff. 
  10.  Ratify the Optional Protocol of the Convention on the 
Elimination of All Forms of   Discrimination against Women, adopted 
by the General Assembly on 15 October 1999.   The Optional Protocol 
provides for individuals or groups to submit communications to   the 
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. 



by Philippe Agret

YANGON, May 25 (AFP) - Of Myanmar's many problems, one of
the most crippling is the paralysis of the country's education 
system, because of the military junta's fear of political unrest.

The educational stalemate has given rise to a "lost generation" of 
and compromised the future of the country formerly known as Burma. 
Myanmar's universities, which have been breeding grounds in the past 
for anti-government unrest, have been sporadically closed since a 
popular uprising in the summer of 1988 threatened to topple the 
military regime.

While many student activists remain in prison or in exile, the result 
has been a decade of lost opportunities for all Myanmar's youth.  The 
rare periods when universities have been open have been quickly 
interrupted by a return of repression -- deserted campuses and months 
of inactivity during which only the most fortunate can continue 
studying with private tutors.

Many students fill their time doing odd jobs, such as driving taxis 
or selling beer, that do not require a university education.

The last student revolt was in December 1996, and in spite of 
official assurances that most of the universities have recently been 
reopened, higher education in Myanmar is far from functioning 

The authorities are concerned about any gatherings of students in 
large cities such as Yangon and Mandalay out of fear they could lead 
to trouble. 
As a result, universities that have opened offer only courses by 
correspondence to two-thirds of their students, who do their 
schoolwork at home, resulting in campuses which are almost always 
One bitter parent spoke of a "virtual school" in which "people don't 
learn anything."

The other third of the students have been allowed to return to 
classes since mid-December 1999, but most of them are studying in new 
technical institutes far outside city centres where protestors have 
For instance, engineering students enrolled in the Yangon Institute 
of Technology are now meeting in new facilities located 20 kilometers 
(12.5 miles) from the capital centre.

The authorities deny that security reasons are behind the move to 
keep students away from the cities and say it is being done because 
of the lack of space and dilapidated state of the city centre 

Deputy Minister of Education Myo Nyunt told AFP that the students 
were moved "because of the extension of the (university) programmes." 
"With more programmes some universities have to be opened outside the 
cities," he said.

He added that 200,000 students were currently enrolled in "distant 
education" -- correspondence school -- in Yangon and Mandalay and 
that "post-graduate diplomas have been running normally since 1996." 

He insisted that the level of higher education in Myanmar is "on a 
par With the developed countries of the region" and took pride in a 
education plan for 2000-2003 that gives emphasis to multimedia 

The Internet and other forms of high tech communications are strictly 
controlled in Myanmar.

Government claims that education is a priority are at odds, however, 
with a stagnant budget for the education ministry and the fact that 
only 0.5 percent of Myanmar's Gross National Product is allocated to 

Other countries in Southeast Asia spend approximately 2.7 percent of 
their GNPs on education.

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has historically enjoyed 
great support from the students, routinely accuses the country's 
military rulers of "sacrificing the future" of Myanmar's youth to 
safeguard their hold on power.  "We'll have to work very hard to make 
up for all the lost years," she told AFP in an interview last year.

"Dictatorships don't really care to educate their people because they 
prefer to keep their people ignorant and subdued, that is the way of 
all dictatorships."



May 22, 2000

Six road security police including two officers were abducted by the 
Shan  State Army- South troops in central Shan State on May 19. The 
abduction was  occurred on the road connecting Taungyi-Loilem-
Panglong-Loihka and  Mongkaing.

The police were on a van while SSA- South troops stopped the cars 
for  taxation between Loihka and Mongkaing. The police were in 
ordinary dresses  when the SSA-South troops found their uniforms in 
their bags. SSA- South  troops arrested and abducted all the police 
on the van including two  officers, reported by a merchant from Shan 
State who was on another car.  According to the sources the police 
were from Mongkaing township police  department. Two abducted 
officers are Htein Lin and Win Min Than. Corporal  Thein Tun, Private 
Hla Moe Kyaw, Kyi Soe Tun and Myo Zaw were also included.  Similar 
incident was occurred on February 25, where three armed police were  
taken by SSA-South troops between Kaukme and Nawnghkio. The fate of 
the  police abducted has not been known yet.



YANGON, May 19

   The Myanmar government has detained and imprisoned a total of 95 
of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), according to a
statement of the NLD available here Friday.

The NLD members, who were held between May 12 and 15 by the military
intelligence units, include 12 parliament representatives of the party
elected in the 1990 general election and 83 other organizers of the 
branches of the party.

Of them, some have been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of 
ranging from
7 to 9 years, the statement said.

The NLD has lodged strong protest to the government over the move.

The government's move came more than 10 days before the NLD is to 
mark the
10th anniversary of the general election on May 27.

The May 1990 general election, contested by 93 political parties, was
sponsored by the Myanmar military government after it took over the 
power of
state on September 18, 1988 when the country was at the height of a
political and economic crisis.

In the election, the NLD won 396 parliamentary seats out of 485.

The NLD blames that the government is still refusing to implement the 
of the 1990 general election, saying that the government, on the 
applies various means to stop and disturb all efforts aimed at 
demanding the
emergence of the people 's parliament.

The NLD unilaterally formed on September 16, 1998 a Committee 
the People's Parliament (CRPP) Elected in the 1990 General Election 
its demand to the government to call the parliament within 60 days was

According to an earlier statement of the CRPP, secretary of the CRPP 
U Aye
Tha Aung was arrested by the government last month.

Meanwhile, the government regarded itself as a "transitional or 
government," frequently repeating that it has "no intention" to hold 
on to
power for long.

According to a high-ranking military official of the Myanmar 
only 169 parliament representatives-elect out of 485 remain valid as 
Thursday. The other 316 include those who resigned, died and 
disqualified or
canceled. Of the 169 parliament representatives who remain valid, 110 
from the NLD.

__________________ INTERNATIONAL ___________________



Issue of June 1, 2000


Flash Point

By Rodney Tasker/CHIANG MAI with Shawn W. Crispin/BANGKOK
Issue cover-dated June 1, 2000 


AS THE ARMY HELICOPTER swoops over the rugged mountains of northern 
Thailand, Gen. Surayud Chulanont, the country's top military 
commander, points below. "This," he says, looking across a landscape 
of hills and dark forest that extends into Burma, "is a threat to our 
country." The land over which we are flying, accompanied by two other 
generals, is the remote frontier on a growing political and security 
crisis for Thailand. 

The worry Surayud refers to centres on the vast and growing 
quantities of illegal narcotics flowing through the hidden pathways 
that cross this border from Burma. In addition to an established 
heroin trade, a staggering 600 million methamphetamine tablets--
individually inexpensive, but collectively worth some $1.8 billion at 
Bangkok street rates--is expected to flood into Thailand this year, 
mainly from areas controlled by the fierce Wa minority in Burma's 
northern Shan state. 

The concern does not end there. Unconvinced by Rangoon's explanations 
that it is unable to control the Wa, Thai authorities are 
increasingly seeing the narcotics problem as one element in what they 
regard as a deliberate campaign of destabilization. Senior officials 
believe Burma's military junta--short of both funds and friends--is 
not only helping the Wa but also is content to see Thailand struggle 
to cope with 100,000 refugees at the border, plus hundreds of 
thousands of illegal immigrants. And the army's generals are becoming 
restless at what they see as their enforced impotence. As one senior 
security official says: "We can't sit like this and take it any 

Antagonism between the two neighbours is not new. Relations have long 
been precarious. As recently as a decade ago, the Thais regarded 
rebellious ethnic Burmese minorities living along their border as a 
buffer between the two countries. But where before the threat was 
armed conflict, it's now a drugs trade that's targeting Thai domestic 
consumption. And the prime enemy is a Wa minority described, 
derisively, by one Thai 3rd Army general as "born with fighting and 
narcotics in their blood." The general says he and his colleagues 
regard the Rangoon junta's first secretary, Lt.-Gen. Khin Nyunt, as 
being specifically involved with the Wa, treating the United Wa State 
Army "almost as his private army." 

Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai is said by one adviser to be deeply 
concerned at the worsening situation. As Deputy Foreign Minister 
Sukhumbhand Paribatra puts it: "No democratically elected government 
could hope to return to power if it sits idly while its sons and 
daughters waste away on drugs." 

The drugs are coming from 50 Wa methamphetamine factories, many in an 
area just across the border near a new township, Mong Yawn, built 
mainly by Thai labour and funded by narcotics profits. To emphasize 
the point, the army helicopter lands on a hill at Doi Kiew Hoong from 
which binoculars offer a view of a neat, prosperous-looking Mong 
Yawn. Then five forlorn-looking UWSA soldiers are produced handcuffed 
and blindfolded. They had been captured straying across the border. 

These particular Wa fighters have no drugs on them. But Maj.-Gen. Anu 
Sumitra, intelligence chief for Thailand's northern-based 3rd Army, 
says ethnic Wa have been channelling methamphetamines across the 
border along with supplies of heroin for the past 10 years. Last year 
some 45 million methamphetamine tablets were confiscated. Anu says 
520 suspected traffickers have been detained since last October. 
Virtually all the stimulants are for Thai consumption. Heroin, on the 
other hand, passes through Thailand for re-export. 


The army, which coordinates the anti-narcotics effort in the north, 
has been relying on ambushes of drug caravans to combat the problem. 
Both sides use night-vision equipment. The army is guided by 
intelligence, mainly from Thai construction workers and foreign 
missionaries across the border, but signs of new and more aggressive 
policies are starting to appear: In a late April interview with the 
Review, Sukhumbhand conceded that Thailand was also supporting 
clandestine sabotage operations in Wa-controlled territory inside 

Sukhumbhand declined to give details, but Thai intelligence sources 
say former members of Britain's elite Special Air Services are being 
recruited to train members of Burma's ethnic Karen community as 
agents in the war on drugs. Western diplomats in Bangkok also talk of 
suspicions of Thai complicity in at least two recent incidents, 
including an explosion at a hydroelectric dam in January near Mong 

Army Commander Surayud characterizes the army's response thus far 
as "low-intensity." Surayud, widely respected as an honest 
professional, diplomatically sidesteps questions about cross-border 
sabotage by the Thais, but he allows that "a surgical strike would be 

A complication to such action, however, is both countries' membership 
of the Association of South East Asian Nations, with its long-
standing principle of noninterference in members' internal affairs. 
Senior Thai Foreign Ministry officials say they now regret helping 
Burma to join the organization in 1997. It's not clear how Asean 
partners would view an escalation of military tension or even a 
conflict between the two. Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos tend to side 
with Burma, while Singapore and Malaysia have substantial business 
links with Rangoon. A senior Thai official maintains that the dispute 
is bilateral only. 

But that argument is flimsy: Other Thai officials claim that China, 
which borders Shan state, is training, providing weapons to and even 
sending personnel to protect the UWSA, which gained semi-autonomy in 
a peace deal with Rangoon in 1989. Analysts believe the Chinese, also 
fighting cross-border drugs, are trying to shift the Wa's focus 

So far this year, and for reasons which aren't fully clear, 20,000 Wa 
and some ethnic Han-Chinese have moved to areas close to the Thai 
border. "China is now playing a larger role in helping the Wa," 
maintains 3rd Army intelligence chief Anu. Anu also believes China is 
intent eventually on forging a strategic land route through Burma to 
the Indian Ocean, exploiting the fact that Beijing is Rangoon's only 
real ally. 

Thailand's government is meanwhile left facing domestic fallout. 
According to official estimates, at least 60% of methamphetamines end 
up in the hands of young people aged 15-18. There's also political 
concern that the pervasive corruption in the comparatively poor north 
is being fuelled by bribes from the massively profitable narcotics 

"Concerns are rising about the effects the amphetamine trade is 
having on northern politics," says Bhansoon Ladavalya, a political 
scientist at Chiang Mai University. "Because the Democrats are 
nearing an end of their term, underground activities are on the 
rise," he adds, referring to murky manoeuvring ahead of a general 
election that the Democrat-led coalition government must call by 


Other political analysts agree that new drug money is forcing Bangkok 
to strive harder to keep a political hold on northern areas. Bhansoon 
says drug money was even used to bolster candidates in the Senate 
election in March. 

The situation led to a closed-door meeting of government and security 
agencies in Bangkok on May 12, resulting in a decision to crack down 
harder on corrupt officials involved in the drugs trade. The National 
Narcotics Operation Centre, set up in 1998 and comprised mainly of 
security agencies, is to keep a closer watch on 109 northern villages 
suspected of links to the illicit trade. Jurin Laksanavisit, the 
Prime Minister's Office minister, who oversees anti-narcotics 
enforcement, has warned that under new regulations, government 
officials found to be involved in the trade will be quickly 

A conspicuous indication of just how far the rot is spreading came in 
mid-May when two officials--one an army sergeant--were arrested in 
the village of Fang, just west of Chiang Mai, with 1.2 tonnes of 
ephedrine, one of the main chemicals used to make methamphetamines. 
Maj.-Gen. Somboonkiat Sithidecha, who is involved in the 3rd Army's 
drug suppression efforts, says the haul was on its way to the UWSA 
and would have been sufficient to make 500 million methamphetamine 
tablets. Ephedrine and caffeine, another key ingredient, are also 
smuggled to the UWSA via China and India. Somboonkiat's boss, 3rd 
Army Commander Lt.-Gen. Wattanachai Chaimuenwong, says his troops are 
being rotated every four months to prevent them from being tempted by 
hefty bribes from drug-traffickers. 

The irritation among Thai officials appears close to breaking point. 
Senior security officials say Bangkok is in no mood to listen to 
excuses from Rangoon. With an election just months away, the 
government is under pressure to act decisively. Declares intelligence 
chief Anu: "Burma is the only government in the world to benefit from 




 By Jordan Baker

 CANBERRA, May 25 AAP - Police clashed repeatedly with demonstrators 
who tried unsuccessfully to storm the  Burmese Embassy in Yarralumla 
today.  Some 120 protesters shouting freedom slogans attempted to 
crash through a police blockade and scale the  embassy gate over a 
three-hour period.   They were protesting against Burma's ruling 
military junta to heed a deadline from monks to begin talks with 
them  on freedom.

 When heavily outnumbered police dragged the protesters off the 
fence, another group of demonstrators, wearing  red bandanas, set 
fire to the Burmese flag.

 Chanting "We want democracy", they hurled banners, poles, water 
bottles and police hats over the embassy fence.

 Scuffles also broke out across the road from the embassy when police 
tried to seize one of their red and gold  freedom flags.

 At one stage an ambulance was called to treat a man who said he 
suffered an asthma attack after a policeman  punched him in the 
 Police eventually restored calm without any arrests.

 One of the demonstrators, New South Wales Greens Party convenor 
Jamie Parker, complained of police violence.

 "That police officer got very excited and started punching me in the 
face," Mr Parker said.

 The demonstration was sparked by a phone call from a monk spokesman 
on the Thai-Burma border who said they  were intending to turn 21 
Burmese monasteries into fortresses of resistance after the 
government ignored their  deadline for dialogue.

 Protest organiser Maung Maung Than said the demonstrators - who had 
travelled here from Sydney and  Melbourne - were supporters of 

 "We don't want to see a dictatorship run in this office," he 
said.   "This is the office belonging to the democratic government, 
not the military regime."

 Initially, some 20 Australian Protective Services officers and 40 
police confronted the demonstraters but were later  joined by federal 
agents who specialise in diplomatic relations.

 A police spokeswoman said officers wanted to avoid making arrests in 
the hope of containing the situation more  easily.

 She said any allegations of inappropriate behaviour by police would 
be investigated.

 Police would not comment on how many people were inside the embassy 
during the protest.

______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS ___________________

IHC Caland)

May 22, 2000

A remarkable group sat in the director's room of the ship and 
offshore building company IHC Caland last week. Around the table: the 
president of the dredging company, a Dutch action group and an 
American-Burmese couple with their three year old daughter.

While  the toddler drew, her parents placed a report on the table 
containing new information that proves that companies such as IHC 
Caland have worked for years in Burma with full knowledge of the 
massive human rights abuses occurring under Burma's military regime, 
and are therefore also to be held accountable.  IHC Caland is the 
only Dutch company that continues to do business in Burma.

The Burmese activist Ka Hsaw Wa (29) and the American lawyer Katie 
Redford (32) are the tormentors of  such companies. In 1995, they 
began the organization EarthRights International.  ERI documents 
human rights abuses, including the tens of thousands of cases of 
forced labor that surround the building of gas and oil pipelines in 
Burma. IHC Caland is also involved in these projects. It provides the 
floating storage tanks for the extraction of gas from the sea off the 
coast of Burma.

"Very friendly, but incredibly naive," said Ka Hsaw Wa about IHC 
Caland's president Aad De Ruyter. "He said that he had 'actually 
never thought about the fact that his company's business in Burma 
would not be possible without the support of the military, which 
provides heavy security for the gas project.  I can't believe that.  
The whole world knows that Burma is one of the worst military regimes 
in power, and that the regime lives on the profits from gas and oil."

ERI says that the company from Schiedam may have known since 1996 
that the gas project goes hand in hand with forced labor.  That year, 
an internal consultant of the Yetagun gas project wrote that the 
Burmese military regime uses "even children" for forced labor for the 
pipeline. "They didn't know about the report," Redford said. "I don't 
know if I should believe that or not." In the States she is known for 
working with ERI to take another investor in Burma, the Californian 
oil company Unocal, to court, though with little success as of yet.  
It stands accused of its (indirect) involvement in forced labor in 

"The idea is to show the Burmese citizens that you can assert your 
rights by legal means," said Redford. "The many people we spoke to 
who had been forced to work by the Burmese military think that 
violence is the only solution, by attacking the military or 
sabotaging the pipeline." 
The couple met each other in 1993 in the region where the pipeline is 
being built.  As a law student, Redford researched human rights abuse 
in Asia. Ka Hsaw Wa lived in a refugee camp in Thailand and used to 
go on underground missions to Burma to collect data about human 
rights violations. "I didn't even have paper, and had to use the 
margins of my English-Burmese dictionary to write down all the 
gruesome stories that I heard from other refugees. When I ran out of 
space, I had to memorize the information." 
Ka Hsaw Wa ended up in a refugee camp, after he, like so many of his 
contemporaries, took part in the massive demonstrations in the 
Burmese capital Rangoon in 1988.  He had been taken in by the police 
right before the demonstrations and endured three days of 
torture.  "And that's just because they were looking for an 
acquaintance of mine."

He never saw Rangoon or his old house again.  Until last year, he 
lived in Asia, where he went on missions from Thailand into the 
Burmese jungle to document tales of mass forced labor imposed upon 
the citizens of the coastal province of Tenasserim by the Burmese 
military, as told by citizens and ex-soldiers. In the past few years, 
thousands, possibly even tens of thousands, of men, women and 
children were forced to work under horrifying conditions on two gas 
pipelines that led from the sea to Thailand. Citizens were forced to 
build barracks for the security forces guarding the pipeline, and are 
still used to carry munitions and other supplies or the 
military. "And in areas where there are landmines, citizens are used 
as human minesweepers," says Ka Hsaw Wa.  The death toll of forced 
laborers is unknown, but many have died in the process of building 
the two pipelines. Six thousand have fled to avoid forced labor.  
Some have reported that in the time they were working on the 
pipelines, they were locked in cages at night to prevent escape.

For his work, Ka Hsaw Wa was honored with several international 
distinctions last year. His photo was shown in the newspaper and on 
the television.  Since then, he cannot go to the Thai-Burmese border 
area for fear of being caught, not even with a fake identity. On one 
of his last missions there, he noticed that he was being searched 
for. "To be safe, I had six different identities.  Thai security even 
asked me once to get in touch with them immediately if I ever came 
across one Ka Hsaw Wa in the jungles. They were looking for me!"

He became a fulltime lobbyist and moved with his family to the United 
States, where they can live safely.  Last week, he began his first 
visit to Europe. In the Netherlands, the couple had some "promising 
discussions" with MPs about possible economic sanctions against Burma 
by the Netherlands.  The couple also visited the pension fund ABP, 
also a large scale investor in IHC Caland.  ABN Amro was not on the 
list for discussion, because, without informing the public, it had 
sold all of its shares in IHC Caland by the end of April.  "They 
didn't even know about it in Schiedam, " said Redford.

"The most ironic part is that not even one liter of gas has flowed 
through the pipeline.  Thanks in part to our lobbying, the World Bank 
repealed a loan to Thailand for millions of dollars, whereby the Thai 
electric company that would refine the gas never finished 
construction.  The World Bank did not want to share responsibility 
for the inhumane circumstances under which the gas was extracted in 
Burma.  But the Burmese junta is quite clever; they made Thailand pay 
for the undelivered gas."



Bangkok Post, May 23, 2000 

Thailand on Burmese elections: 

Seldom have hopes been raised so high and dashed so hard as the 
Burmese elections of 1990. Ten years ago this Saturday, the nation 
turned out en masse to open what they hoped was a new era of 
democracy. Burmese voted overwhelmingly for a new parliament. The 
army was defeated, the National League for Democracy won.
In the decade since, Burmese have watched the dictatorship smash 
their hopes and votes to smithereens. The elected parliament never 
met. The leader of the winning party, Aung San Suu Kyi, was 
imprisoned in her home. She had urged the Burmese to go to the polls 
and vote for a democratic regime. There are few crimes more serious 
in Burma, then or today. (Burma is also known as Myanmar).  

The junta has made Burma the poorest state in the Association of 
Southeast Asian Nations, offering no hope out of poverty. It has made 
Burma an international pariah, directly helping to traffic drugs to 
Thailand and the rest of the world. It has brutalized its own people 
with imprisonment, torture and forced labor on a scale seldom seen in 
the least-civilized nations.  
It is time the regime respected the demand of its people for a 
democratic and accountable government. The form of government is the 
business of citizens. The people of Burma spoke a decade ago. Voters 
had clear choices, and they made them. The Rangoon regime will get no 
respect until it makes clear and solid progress toward implementing 
those choices.  



May 2000

The European Parliament,

-	having regard to its previous resolutions on Burma, in 
particular its resolution of 16 September 1999 on Burma ,

A.	whereas on 27 May it will be ten years since Aung San Suu Kyi 
was elected President by a large majority of the people of Burma when 
the National League for Democracy (NLD) won 392 of the 485 seats in 
Parliament in free and fair elections and whereas the elected 
Parliament, which is now represented by the CRPP, has still not been 
permitted to convene, 

B.	whereas many thousands of people have died and hundreds of 
thousands of people have fled to neighbouring countries such as 
India, Thailand and Malaysia, where they have for years been living 
in refugee camps and are dependent on humanitarian aid from NGOs and 
from those neighbouring countries, 

C.	deploring the SPDC's continued intimidation and restrictions 
on Aung San Suu Kyi, who has recently been threatened with 
imprisonment, and other NLD members, who were again imprisoned in 
1999, in many cases under very poor conditions, without adequate food 
or medical care,

D.	condemning the arrest of 40 NLD youth members and of U Aye 
Thar Aung of the Arakan League for Democracy in April 2000, as well 
as 82-year old Nai Tun Shein of the Mon National Democratic Front and 
Kyin Shin Htan of the Zomi National Congress in November 1999, after 
they spoke with Alvaro de Soto, then the UN's special envoy to Burma, 
and the detention of 83-year old Saw Mra Aung, the Speaker of the 
CRPP, who has been under arrest since the committee was formed in 
September 1998,

E.	deeply concerned about reports on special guerrilla 
retaliation units of the Burmese army, whose mission is to execute 
any civilians in Karen State suspected of interaction with the Karen 
National Union (KNU), 

F.	whereas in Burma itself large numbers of people have also 
been moved to new areas, as a result of which whole communities have 
disintegrated and fallen into deep poverty,

G.	whereas according to reports the Burmese army has the highest 
ratio of child soldiers in the world,

H.	whereas at the end of March the governing body of the 
International Labour Organisation (ILO) documented the SPDC's 
maintenance of a system of forced labour without any sign of 
improvement, and urged member countries and international 
organisations to withhold cooperation from the country, 
I.	whereas in a recent report the World Bank indicated that 
constructive economic reform cannot be effectively implemented 
without progress toward democratisation,

J.	whereas nearly all universities in Burma have been closed 
since December 1996, and in the last twelve years have only been open 
for less than three years,

K.	whereas investment by European multinational oil companies 
reportedly accounts for almost a third of the total official foreign 
investment in Burma, thus greatly benefiting the SPDC,

L.	whereas the Government of the United Kingdom has called on 
Premier Oil to withdraw from Burma,

M.	welcoming the fact that the Council has strengthened its 
Common Position on Burma by including a ban on export of equipment 
that might be used for internal repression or terrorism, naming those 
in the regime and its supporters to whom the visa ban applies, and 
imposing a freeze on the funds held abroad by those same persons,

N.	noting however that the Council has still not responded to 
Aung San Suu Kyi's request to implement economic sanctions, and has 
not taken any significant economic measures against the SPDC, and 
noting that the USA has already halted investment in Burma,

O.	regretting that the meeting of the Association of South East 
Asian Nations (ASEAN) held in Rangoon on 1 and 2 May 2000, which 
brought together Ministers from the 10 member countries as well as 
Japan and China, permitted the military regime to use it as a 
platform to promote its own political interests,

1.	Deeply regrets that ASEAN held its two-day meeting of the 
region's economic ministers without raising the fundamental question 
of respect for human rights;

2.	Calls on the SPDC to enter into a meaningful dialogue with 
the democratic opposition and ethnic groups;

3.	Calls again on the SPDC to immediately release all political 
prisoners, to cease human rights abuses, and to allow political 
parties to function freely;

4.	Calls on the SPDC to end its widespread practice of forced 
labour and the associated human rights violations, which has been 
described by the ILO as a 'crime against humanity';

5.	Calls on the SPDC to open all universities to provide higher 
education for its civilian population and not just for the military 
elite; calls on the SPDC furthermore to stop recruiting child 
soldiers and to send those children to school instead;

6.	Calls on the Council to demand that all European companies 
cease to invest in Burma;

7.	Considers that the governments of the EU Member States should 
advise their citizens against visiting Burma as tourists, 
particularly because many new tourist facilities have also been 
created using forced labour; 

8.	Considers it high time that the EU Member States adopted a 
common policy on Burma and calls on the Commission and Council to 
take effective decisions on this subject as soon as possible;

9.	Confirms the importance of EU-ASEAN cooperation and 
partnership but supports the exclusion of Burma from the ASEAN-EU 
process, and insists that the military regime of Burma should not be 
allowed to participate in the ASEAN-EU Senior Official Meeting in 

10.	Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the 
Commission, the Council, the governments of the EU Member States and 
the accession candidate countries, ASEAN and its Member States and 
the Governments of Burma, India, China and Japan. 

_____________________ OTHER  ______________________


May 25, 2000

The Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand staged a press conference 
on May 25th for Burmese monks and opposition leaders to discuss the 
10th Anniversary of the 1990 election and the Foreign Correspondents 
Club of Tokyo will host a dinner/press conference on May 30 for 
Burmese opposition leaders to discuss Japan's policy on Burma.

The five invited panelists for the Bangkok event included The 
Venerable Ashin Khaymar Sarra, founding member of the All Burma Young 
Monks' Union (ABYMU), U Maung Maung Aye, General Secretary  of the 
National Council of the Union of Burma and and Minister of 
Information for the exiled elected government,U Maung Maung Latt, an 
elected NLD MP, Dr. Zalhe Thang Chairman and elected MP and  Dr. Sann 
Aung, an Independent elected MP currently serving as Minister of 
Labour of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma.

The Tokyo press conference on May 30 will feature Harn Yawnghwe, who 
is the director of the Euro-Burma Office in Brussels and Dr. Thaung 
Htun is the representative of the National Coalition Government of 
the Union of Burma (NCGUB) to the United Nations and is based in New 

The Euro-Burma office is a joint project between the European Union 
and the German Friedrich Ebert Foundation, he is the movement's chief 
representative to the EU.  The NCGUB is the government formed by 
members of the democratically elected 1990 parliament to seek 
international support for the restoration of parliamentary democracy 
in Burma. 

The Tokyo press conference comes just after Aung San Suu Kyi sent a 
message aimed at Japan in a video smuggled out of Burma.  In it, the 
leader of Burma's besieged democracy movement Aung San Suu Kyi 
appealed to Japan not to be manipulated:

 "We know that the people of Japan bear (us) goodwill. We would not 
like that goodwill to be manipulated by those who want to use it for 
their own ends. We would like the people of Japan to look at the 
people of Burma. Let the people of Japan talk with their hearts to 
the people of Burma and decide what is best, what should best be 

Dr. Thaung Htun and Harn Yawngwhe are set to deliver a message that 
Japan's renewed aid program to Burma's regime is an impediment to 
political dialogue between the military junta and Aung San Suu Kyi.  
That aid program is likely to include funding for the most expensive 
dams in Southeast Asia--projects in the planning stage but which are 
already causing massive human rights abuses.


Acronyms and abbreviations regularly used by BurmaNet.

AVA: Ava Newsgroup.  A small, independent newsgroup covering Kachin 
State and northern Burma.

KHRG: Karen Human Rights Group.  A non-governmental organization 
that  conducts interviews and collects information primarily in 
Burma's  Karen State but also covering other border areas.

KNU: Karen National Union.  Ethnic Karen organization that has been 
fighting Burma's central government since 1948.

NLM: New Light of Myanmar, Burma's state newspaper.  The New Light of 
Myanmar is also published in Burmese as Myanmar Alin.

SCMP: South China Morning Post.  A Hong Kong newspaper.

SHAN: Shan Herald Agency for News.  An independent news service  
covering Burma's Shan State.

SHRF: Shan Human Rights Foundation

SPDC: State Peace and Development Council.  The current name the  
military junta has given itself.  Previously, it called itself the  
State Law and Order Restoration Council.


The BurmaNet News is an Internet newspaper providing comprehensive 
coverage of news and opinion on Burma  (Myanmar).  

For a subscription to Burma's only free daily newspaper, 
write to: strider@xxxxxxx

You can also contact BurmaNet by phone or fax:

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